Pat Katz Pat Katz




PAUSE – 9.04 – Multitasking A Myth

REFLECTION: If you were running late in the morning and grabbed something to eat on the drive to work, how many of you would choose a bowl of milk and cereal? Not exactly top of list for a mobile snack, is it?

I’m guessing one Ontario woman wishes she hadn’t made that choice herself. Earlier this winter this cheerio scooping driver lost control on an icy highway, crashing into the roadside guideposts. Police found her – safe but embarrassed – covered in milk and cereal.

Her experience is one more – thankfully not tragic – example of what happens when we choose to multitask in thoughtless, irresponsible ways.

In his recent book, Dave Crenshaw explodes what he calls the ‘Myth of Multitasking’. Crenshaw maintains that multitasking is neither a reality nor efficient.

When we multitask, we’re not really doing two things at once. We’re actually moving back and forth between tasks doing something Crenshaw refers to as ‘ micro switch-tasking’. Each switch of attention and focus comes with an efficiency cost – the time and energy required to refocus on the competing task before being able to carry on.

Now, some of you may already be preparing your arguments that you can in fact walk and chew gum at the same time – hence proving that multitasking is not a myth. Know that Crenshaw distinguishes between switch-tasking and background-tasking. The latter is when you perform multiple tasks where only ONE task requires significant mental effort.

ACTION: Pay attention to the real nature of the multitasking experience the next time you find yourself engaging in conversation, checking your email, and making a note all at the same time.  Presumably all three of these tasks require some degree of mental effort – so none would qualify as a backgrounding task.

How many times do you have to ask yourself or someone else, “Where was I?”  

In what instances would you be better off simply concentrating on one focal point to completion, and then moving on to the next?

PS-  Keep your eyes on the road and your cereal in the kitchen!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Multitasking: A polite way of telling someone you haven’t heard a word they said.” From


Read Crenshaw’s article on ‘The Myth of Multitasking’ at:

READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s Pause message, Getting To The Root of Things, LC writes: “As always, a message that was meant for me!  I attended a seminar last week on controlling emotions under pressure and this certainly fits right in.  One acronym used by the leader was QTIP….quit taking it personally!  I have added a container of Q-Tips to everyone’s desk with a flag saying QTIP in big letters. Ah, the simple things!”

Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

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